Somewhat amazingly, it may feel, we are approaching autumn 2020. Today, as I look around our village, it does feel as though life has returned to something that closely resembles ‘normal’. Residents of all ages are out and about, enjoying our public spaces and walks as well as bars, pubs, cafés and shops.
As everybody is fully aware, we have a cricket club at the very heart of our village. As a cricketer myself, I have to say the village centre felt incredibly quiet throughout May, June and into July without the usual weekend sight of a cricket match and spectators around the Green. It has been lovely to see this sight re-emerge and bring back that traditional sign of village life over the past weeks.
In this post-lockdown and restricted world, it does seem many are turning to sport and recreation, enjoying the outdoors in a way many of us simply didn’t have time for previously. This is so nice to see, and I really hope more and more members of this community take up sporting and fitness activities, whether outdoor or indoor. If this sounds like something for you, please look into the wide range of classes, activities, sporting groups and others that are around in the village.
It is also a really wonderful thing to see the re-emergence of our usually vibrant community groups and volunteer organisations, and I would like to congratulate everyone who has worked hard to get back to doing these good things, in their spare time and for free, that make a difference to the lives of so many across our community.
We have seen such an outpouring of community spirit over the last six months and many residents have sought new outlets for their spare time that allows and enables them to do something positive for others, support the community, meet new friends and enjoy spending time socialising (socially distancing of course) with like-minded people.
It strikes me that this year has given us all an opportunity to build positive networks across our community and join in with our fantastic and often long-standing volunteers. If you are reading this and thinking you would be interested in getting involved, please look into the wealth of community groups we have. Volunteers are such a precious resource (and Covid-19 has surely demonstrated this for us), so joining-in, having a go and doing something you enjoy would be a huge benefit to our community organisations. Regardless of your age, ability or even availability, you would be very welcome. If this sounds like something for you, but you do not know where to start, look up our volunteer groups on Wombourne Online, email Wombourne and District Community Association, or contact either the Parish Council office or even myself.
Some of you reading this may have received a Positivity Parcel over the summer. I got involved delivering some of these myself to residents young and old, providing a small pick-me-up in the wake of this most horrendous of situations, and the response was so very heart-warming. I have met many residents delivering these, and have seen first hand what a little gift can mean to people.
On this note, I would like to say thank you to the much wider Wombourne Community Assistance Group team who put together and delivered these parcels – they are all such wonderful people.
As time moves on and restrictions ease, we are all getting out more and enjoying life as we once did. In doing so however, please remember to play your part in keeping yourselves and others safe. Shopping in our village is safe and our retailers have risen to the challenge in providing all of the measures that reassure us wherever we go. Please remember to wear face masks when entering shops and enclosed spaces, and keep two metres distant wherever you can. While this still is not ‘normal’, it enables us to do many of the things we would normally expect, and I thank everyone that undertake these steps to keep us all safe.
Please stay safe and well everyone, and look after each other.
As we reach the end of the civic year I felt it an important moment to reflect on events since the election of a new Parish Council back in May 2019. It has been quite a year.
Firstly, I must mention the flooding we experienced in the wake of the February storms. What an end to an incredibly wet winter. If ever any were needed, this was a timely reminder of the importance of community in such trying circumstances. I would like to say an enormous thank you to all those residents who got out there, volunteering their time in the wet and the cold, who sought to help those in distress, and repair, clean and restore our community buildings affected, clearing drains of debris or reporting hazards to the relevant authorities – whether you feel your contribution was big or small, collectively you helped to make a massive difference, and we should all be very proud to live next door to such community-spirited individuals.
Undoubtedly, this made for a memorable start to 2020. It also fits very well with my experience as Chairman of the Parish over the last year; witnessing the real vibrancy of our volunteering community in Wombourne. Regularly, I have attended events put on by volunteers, whether they are raising money for a good cause or running a group or society that makes a difference locally. I am always amazed by the new groups I come across, and as such I was delighted to invite many of them to our annual Civic dinner in order to thank them formally for all of their hard work.
Community spirit does not stop at volunteering, of course. I was delighted by the sheer numbers of local businesses involved in the Christmas and Carnival window competitions, and the summer Wombourne in Bloom competition, which give much joy to residents at those times of year, and to the great variety of school children designing posters, writing poetry, or singing their hearts out. Not only that, but many of our younger members of the village are getting out litter picking, or watering flower tubs in the summer months, in support of our very own, newly branded Best Kept Village Community to help keep Wombourne looking its best. I’m sure we can all agree that when we see areas looking litter and weed-free, it makes a difference to us. I can also say how heart-warming it is when people approach our volunteers in the street whilst they are sweeping leaves or picking litter, and simply say ‘thank you for doing that’, or ‘well done!’ I have witnessed this for myself, and can tell you it means an awful lot.
We have a very special community here in the Wombourne Parish. While we certainly have our fair share of issues locally, as everywhere does, it is remarkable just how much of a positive difference people do make to their community. It is all of you that make this village what it is, and I can only close by saying that it has been an absolute privilege to have represented Wombourne as its Parish Chairman over the last year.
Wombourne Parish Council
Chairman’s Blog – Spring 2020
Welcome to 2020 everyone!
I realise we are now well into the new year, but what a special occasion. Not only are we welcoming a new year, but a new decade too – and I must say I am looking forward to getting on and promoting some new initiatives through the Parish Council. It will be a busy few months.
First, however, I’d like to go back to some of the fantastic happenings over the Christmas period. As I’m sure you will all remember, the festive season began in Wombourne with a bang on 29th November at the annual Christmas Lights switch-on. As with all of the big events in the chairman’s calendar, it was a night I will always remember.
However, much has happened since then. The following week, I participated in Small Business Saturday, visiting forty-six businesses over a pretty packed six hours or so. We have some really wonderful small businesses in our village, and it was a pleasure getting out to support them and their exciting ventures – and picking up some ideas for Christmas gifts while I was at it! This year was particularly special as we received fantastic support from more outlying shops, particularly from Bull Lane and Common road. This was a really enjoyable day, and if you own a small business (or know someone who does), and you were not involved this year, make sure you register your interest for the next Small Business Saturday.
Alongside this was the announcing of the Christmas Window competition winner. I really enjoyed doing this, and was frankly amazed at the number of businesses that get involved and put out really lovely displays. Again, if you haven’t entered before, give it a go! In fact, a lesson here can be found in our 2019 winner. Blush of Bull Lane put in a truly stunning effort, and took the top spot on their first ever attempt. However, the competition was fierce with Let’s Go Round Again runners-up and a further three highly commended. Well done to all the entrants, and keep up the great work.
It was a great honour to be invited to give a reading and participate in two Christmas Carol services this Christmas. The first, on election night, was well attended by members of all of our local churches, and on Sunday 22nd December I attended the service at Wombourne Methodist Church. Both were heart-warming occasions, and as ever it is great to see so many members of our community coming together and enjoying each other’s company.
In my last blog I wrote about thinking of those who might be alone at Christmas. On the 20th December I volunteered my services as a driver for three of our residents, taking them to and from a Christmas party held at the District Council offices in Codsall. This was all in aid of ensuring that special time of year was not missed by some of our residents who are lone much of the time, and it was again wonderful to see so many there, from all over South Staffordshire. I would also like to thank any and all residents and colleagues who supported this wonderful initiative.
That is it for me, in my first blog of 2020, but I would like to flag up a few things that are coming up soon. First, I am really looking forward to our annual Civic Reception in March, which is always enjoyable – and a way for the Parish Council to recognise the fantastic work of all of our voluntary groups. Some of you may have noticed that the Parish Council is becoming more active online – you will already be aware of this website, but we have now launched ourselves onto Facebook and Twitter, so please do catch up with us online and see what your Council is doing. Finally, I am really looking forward to working on a project to establish Wombourne as a Dementia Friendly Village. We will be getting out building practical support for this very soon. Please help us make this a success.
Wombourne Parish Council
I’m sure you will agree that this year has absolutely flown by! We are now welcoming Christmas and the New Year, which commenced in the usual fashion with the Christmas lights switch-on. It was fantastic to see so many people turn out once again, welcoming the start of the festive season.
I have found it constantly inspiring on all of these important occasions how many members of our community show their support, and come together to make Wombourne the vibrant village that it is. Speaking of which, it was a very humbling experience on Remembrance Sunday to see so many turn out to not only commemorate those that have fallen for us, but also to signal our deep respect for those who serve. It was a great honour to place a wreath, and it is a memory I shall not forget.
Now we are turning to celebrate the festive period, and I hope it brings joy to all. However, whilst it is often a fun time spent in the company of friends and family, celebrating the good things we have, there are those for whom Christmas is a lonely time. At this point I would like to ask that every reader takes the time to look out for those neighbours who are alone at Christmas. They may be elderly or separated from loved ones, and the value of a friendly face cannot be underestimated. Especially as the weather deteriorates, some may appreciate some help purchasing everyday essentials. Loneliness is a terrible thing, and it can only be worse at Christmas time.
While looking out for those alone over the festive period is of great importance, the Parish Council is also investigating the possibility of establishing Wombourne as a ‘Dementia-friendly’ village. If achieved, I feel this would be a great signal that we are determined to help and support villagers suffering with this illness to be independent and active members of the community for as long as possible. It is important that we help sufferers and their families maintain the confidence to use services in our community, and that support can be sought in a wide variety of places should it become necessary.
For now, I would like to leave you with my best wishes for the festive season. May you all have a very merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous New Year.
We are now rushing headlong into autumn in Wombourne, and the vibrant blooms of summer are fast transforming into the familiar sights of the new season. Dare I say, we will soon be looking forward to the Christmas Lights switch-on!
I hope all villagers had enjoyable and, no doubt, well-earned summer breaks between the sometimes unseasonal and turbulent weather we seem to be becoming accustomed to in a British summer time.
Despite some cold, rainy weather at times, I think we can all agree the village looked better than ever in its summertime finery. The Best Kept Village committee again did us proud, ensuring a beautiful and tidy village. It is with great pride that I would like to congratulate them and all their volunteers in achieving third place in the large village category of the Best Kept Village competition, as well as extending thanks for their selfless hard work.
Whilst on the subject, it is also an opportune moment to congratulate the winners of the Wombourne in Bloom competition this year. Like the efforts of the BKV, Wombourne’s businesses also get in on the act to ensure the village looks its best. It was fantastic to see so many businesses participating, and I hope even more choose to do so next year. This year’s winners were Walker’s Way, where the level of work was frankly staggering, and The Mount Pleasant, where the hanging display was simply stunning. A huge well done to all those that took part.
However, there is naturally much more going on in Wombourne than marvelling at its summer splendour. The Parish Council is now passing the 125 years milestone, which is another important event in the life of the village that I hope will be built upon for many years to come.
Equally, we have renewal within the village. In early September I attended the closing meeting of 2nd Wombourne Scout Group. Despite being the end of an era in some ways, it was not a sad affair. Rather, the meeting witnessed the birth of The Bratch Scouts – it was a renewal, and a rebranding that is intended to bring greater recognition and support to an essential community and youth organisation. The positivity of the event was fantastic, and perhaps they will be celebrating that day in 125 years’ time too.
On a final note, I also attended Perton Parish Council’s Civic Service in September. A long-time volunteer myself, I know the impact they can have. Many local community groups owe their existence to their tireless efforts, and it must be no surprise that the central theme of this article is congratulating volunteer successes, urging more to get involved and thanking volunteers for their dedication. As with the Best Kept Village committee, Wombourne’s very own Volunteer Bureau is also a key organisation at the heart of Parish life. All the groups mentioned, and many others besides, will always welcome new volunteers, and if you can spare even an hour here or there, I am certain it would be most welcome. This is where the Parish becomes a community, and I want to thank you all for the work you do.
To echo my previous piece as your outgoing Vice Chairman, I’d like to say a warm hello to all of the residents of the Wombourne Parish – this time as your new Chairman. I must say, it is a great honour to be elected your Chairman for the next year, and along with the newly elected Council, we look forward to serving our Parish over the next four years.
As such, we have a wealth of talent on the Parish Council, including all seven of our District Councillors, and our County Councillor. I am grateful for their continued support and guidance, and we benefit greatly from their close involvement in the village.
Only a few weeks into my new role, I have already been kept busy representing the Parish across a wide variety of events. All have been thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to attending many more.
On Monday 24th June, I attended the flag-raising ceremony at the District Council for Armed Forces Day. As a history teacher myself, I am very committed to honouring the very best of our armed forces, whether current or historic. They deserve our undying respect. At this ceremony, I was stopped by a young lady who was amazed to see the procession, particularly of Parish and District Chairmen proudly wearing their chains of office. She asked me what I did, and I responded that I chaired my Parish Council and represented it at official engagements. She observed that the chains looked heavy, and was grateful for me taking the time to speak to her. Actually, it was a pleasure. I look forward to many more such encounters.
Of course, it has been that time of year again, where the village was gripped by Carnival Fever. This year’s theme, Bringing Books to Life, was well supported by the school float competition, and the quality of the entrants was as high as ever. Indeed, this is quite a pertinent theme, given the times. I’m sure we’ve all come to identify children’s playtime with television and video-games these days, but it is extremely important to underline the importance and joy of reading. I look forward to this each year, and it was fantastic to see so many turn out to support it.
The Carnival committee do a fantastic job in putting this annual show on, and a big well done to all those that help to bring it together on the day! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people throughout the day, visiting all the stalls and seeing the fantastically high standards at the W.I. event. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves too, and look forward to seeing you there next year.
One of my main initiatives as Chairman has been to demonstrate my unwavering support for Wombourne’s Best Kept Village committee. They have done a fantastic job for many years keeping our village looking its best, and in recent years has grown its volunteer base which is enabling it to undertake ever more ambitious initiatives. It is amazing to see the improvements they have made to the village. Anyone who has been past the Women’s Institute village hall on the High street recently will be able to attest to what they can do in a single morning, and I was delighted to offer my own services in support of them.
What is more, with support from schools, and all manner of youth organisations, they are helping to create a new generation that sees actively caring for their surroundings as an essential part of community life. This is simply inspirational, and I would ask all those that can spare a morning to check the BKV Facebook page for their next scheduled activities – it would be lovely to see you there.
Finally, I would like to reiterate the words of our last Chairman, Mary Roberts. I really do wish to encourage more community feedback to the Parish Council, especially your triumphs, and hope to see residents in the Public Participation sessions before the monthly Parish Meetings.
Wombourne Parish Council
A big hello to all residents of the Wombourne Parish! As your outgoing Parish Council Vice-Chairman, I must say these are exciting times. Not only are we starting a new year, with Parish Councillors appointed to new roles, particularly the election of a new Chairman and Vice-Chair, but we are also closing down the Parish Council that has been in place for the last four years, holding both Parish and District elections, and opening a new Parish Council.
The start of this new four-year cycle is indeed inspiring, and I look forward to welcoming new and returning Councillors at the first meeting in June. At the time of writing, the election is still ongoing, and we still do not know the make-up of the new Council, and so the first meeting of the new session really will be a fresh, invigorating experience.
However, not all recent events have been so positive. We are now mourning the loss of our longstanding friend and colleague, Councillor Mary Bond. Her passing has come as a very great shock, and my thoughts, along with that of all of my colleagues, are very much with her husband, Councillor Barry Bond at this time.
It strikes me as unfortunate that, at the same time we are mourning her passing, we are still seeking election and working towards the formation of a new Council – in many ways it feels highly inappropriate. Yet Mary was nothing if not a dedicated public servant, and whilst we do rightly take the opportunity to reflect where we can, it does seem to me fitting that we honour her memory by continuing towards forming a committed and hard-working Council. She was determined to improve her local community, and we should strive to be as committed and effective. As such, our newly elected Parish Councillors will have big shoes to fill.
Mary Bond will be greatly missed.
At this point, it seems hardly right, but I really ought to introduce myself. I have lived in the Parish for a little over four years and live with my partner Hannah who works in the village. However, I am even now still getting to know the village, and getting to know lots of new people – as such, I am still learning. As a recent graduate from the University of Wolverhampton, I now work in the same institution as a History teacher – a job I thoroughly enjoy. Being in a position where I can help to broaden horizons, encourage, facilitate and ultimately educate and inspire new generations of students is extremely important to me, and it is no coincidence that this passion also drives me to participate in public life, representing my friends, neighbours and local residents.
There are a number of things I am particularly passionate about – History, politics and Cricket being chief amongst these. I have run my local club as a senior committee member for fourteen years now, and am equally insistent on the benefits of sport and recreational activity, as well as the vital social interaction that it necessitates.
I am eagerly looking forward to spending the next year representing my Parish, getting to know many more new faces no doubt, and working with my fellow Councillors for the continued benefit of Wombourne.
I would like to specifically thank our outgoing Chairman, Councillor Mary Roberts. It has been an absolute pleasure shadowing her for the last year. She has been thoughtful and supportive, providing me with ample hints and tips that will certainly come in handy over the next twelve months. She has been a dedicated and hard-working Chairman, and will – as with her own predecessor – be a hard act to follow. Mary, thank you.
One of the central parts of the Parish Council’s duties is engaging with the many and varied community and voluntary organisations that operate within the Parish. Not least due to my own years of experience as a volunteer, I relish the opportunity to get to know many of these better over the coming year. We have a vibrant and thriving volunteer community here in Wombourne, and this deserves to be celebrated. It is fitting therefore, that the Parish Council hosts an annual Civic Reception to honour these groups, and bestows an annual Civic Award. I am particularly looking forward to attending and supporting the annual Carnival and supporting the Best Kept Village committee. The results of these, and the tireless work that goes into them, are a credit to our village.
Finally, I would like to encourage you all to continue to engage with your Parish Council. Say hi and talk to us about all the great things that are happening locally, as well as the issues that are affecting you. We are always keen to celebrate new initiatives, creativity and the very best of our village.
Wombourne Parish Council
They say time goes quickly, and certainly in my capacity as Parish Chairman it has. I have enjoyed the past year and would like to thank my fellow Parish Councillors, District Councillors and County Councillor for all their help, support and advice.
Linked to the above, one of my favourite activities was taking part in the Wombourne Carnival. This year the Carnival is on Sunday 7th July and the theme is ‘Bringing Books to Life’ and I know the Carnival Committee are hard at work planning the day around this theme. Please check out their website www.wombournecarnival.co.uk and their Facebook page both of which will be updated with the events of the day.
Earlier this month, a new dementia singing friends group was launched in Wombourne. Taking place every Wednesday from 1pm to 3pm in the Community Room in Wombourne Library, the sessions are relaxed and informal where people affected by dementia and their carers can get together, have a good chat and a laugh while also singing favourite songs or even having a dance. I wish everyone well in this new venture and trust it is well supported.
A new CASS carers’ café in the Brook Room at the Civic Centre in Wombourne will be opening its doors on Wednesday 13 March 2019, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. If you are looking after a family member or friend, join CASS the Carers Association for information, support and advice at their new Café for Carers. Why not pop in for a cuppa and cake on their launch day. More information about CASS The Carers Association, can be found at www.carersinformation.org.uk
We are very fortunate in Wombourne to have so many volunteer organisations and I look forward to meeting representatives at the annual Civic Dinner on 16th March. I hope you support me in giving a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone in these organisations who give up their time on a regular basis to help the community.
I am sure you will have seen the new Best Kept Village logo on this post popping up in Social Media and in and around the Village. It is great to see so many people starting to turn out for their regular litter picks and larger initiatives around the Village. Wishing this committee all the very best for the Best Kept Village competition again this year.
On a different and sad note, we recently lost a past Councillor, Mrs Betty Gough, who served twice on the Parish Council. In her younger days she appeared in many stage productions around Smethwick & Oldbury, as well as being the supporting singer for her husband’s band. I am told Betty was a great advocate for Wombourne and made an impact during her time on the Parish Council. I would like to pass on the Council’s condolences to Betty’s family & friends at this time.
Finally, a reminder that the Annual Parish Meeting will be held on Wednesday 24th April at the Council Chambers at 7:30pm. As ever we look forward to seeing lots of residents on the night.
What an interesting exhibition and talk organised by Wombourne History Group & Wombourne Parish Council on 10th November. The title was ‘2018 – A Time to Remember The End of WW1’. It was great to hear and see information relating to Wombourne and lovely to see so many people attending this free event ahead of Remembrance Sunday. This year there were some additions to the Remembrance Sunday Church Services with thanks to the Armed Forces Covenant “There but not there” campaign. Following the 2014 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London, which represented the 888,246 British and Commonwealth Service men and women who lost their lives in the First World War, the ‘Sitting Tommy’ commemorated the centenary of the end of the 1914-1918 war and those who lost their lives.
A new play area opened in Bratch Park, Bratch Lane in September which is specifically designed for younger children. The need was identified by the Parish Council in 2015/2016 and the children at the four Primary Schools were consulted in relation to what equipment they would like to see. The aerial runway (zip wire) was their number one priority; installed in 2017, with the balance of the items installed and operational in September 2018. A few pictures of the new equipment are on the back page. The car park has now also been resurfaced. The Parish Council would love to hear your feedback on the new equipment, we have seen some posts on Social Media indicating young children are loving it. Please email your comments to email@example.com
As mentioned in a previous article a new local plan for South Staffordshire is being prepared by the District Council. The first stage of consultation took place from Monday 8th October until 5pm on Friday 30th November 2018. An all-day drop-in session was held at Wombourne Civic Centre is on Wednesday 7th November 2018. The plan can be viewed at www.sstaffs.gov.uk/localplanreview
Now Christmas is fast approaching I trust everyone is looking forward to the holidays, hopefully spending time with family and friends. Wombourne Parish Councillors hope you enjoyed the Christmas Light Switch on at the Civic Centre on Friday 30th November The Westfield School Choir sang a great selection of Christmas Carols and Santa was also in attendance.
It is always lovely to feel the Village atmosphere on the Friday evening, with several shops staying open late and crowds of people bustling around. It was great to see lots of people out and about the next day as well, as the first Saturday in December each year is Small Business Saturday. This is a Nationwide initiative to encourage more people to ‘shop locally’. Each year some of the shops and businesses offer up various discounts, some on the day, and some for early in the New Year.
Finally, at that remains is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Hopefully everyone enjoyed their Summer holidays which by now may be a distant memory.
Many congratulations to the Chairman and Committee of Wombourne Best Kept Village on coming second in the large village category. This is an incredible achievement with thanks also going to all the many volunteers who have helped in recent months. It is lovely to see the Spar in the centre of the village, consistently allowing some of their staff to help in the litter picks; great community spirit shown by all. Finally, I hope as many people as possible were able to take part in the World Clean Up Day on Saturday 15th September. Check out the new Wombourne Best Kept Village Facebook page for more information https://www.facebook.com/wombourneBKV
It was a pleasure to walk around the businesses in the centre of the Village, plus the various pubs, to judge the Wombourne In Bloom competition. There was a lovely display of flowers and plants at most establishments, all adding to the overall attractiveness of the village. The winner this year is The Round Oak Inn, with Walkers Way in the centre of the village coming a very close second.
In the last blog I mentioned that following feedback from children at a local primary school an order had been placed for additional play equipment at Bratch Park. The new equipment is being installed in September and the car park will also be improved. The Parish Council managed to secure £10,000 of funding to go towards the overall cost of this work. Hopefully there will be some pictures to show in the next blog. Thanks again to County Councillor Mike Davies for organising this project.
We would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to look and comment on this website. It is updated on a regular basis with news in relation to local events, Councillor news and general information. At present you can see pictures of Councillors Barry and Mary Bond at a recent reception with the Prime Minister http://www.wombourneparishcouncil.org.uk/local-councillors-meet-the-prime-minister/
There is also a calendar of upcoming events to be held in the Civic Centre together with photographs of all the various rooms that are available for hire http://www.wombourneparishcouncil.org.uk/civic-centre/
The South Staffordshire Community Innovation Fund details are outlined with grants up to £1,000 being available for all Community and Voluntary Sector organisations. Submissions must be made by 5pm on Friday 28th September 2018. Application forms can be obtained from the Parish Council office on 01902 896300. Please refer to the website for details on what you must have to qualify for submission.
Until next time, Cllr Mary Roberts.